25 Cranborne to Commonwealth Government

Cablegram D227 LONDON, 6 February 1945, 10.55 p.m.

TOP SECRET MOST IMMEDIATE

Received 7 February 1945

My telegram D. No. 193 of 1st February. [1]

We have considered further in the light of the views expressed by the Dominion Governments, the question of the proposed agreement with the Soviet Government regarding the treatment of liberated prisoners of war. The essential object of the agreement is, of course, to secure repatriation at the earliest possible moment. It seems to us, however, most important that in the meantime the position of our prisoners of war liberated by the Russians should be safeguarded by some definite agreement with the Soviet Government. Otherwise there will be no certainty what will happen to them or how they will be treated. We consider that in all the circumstances the best course would be to modify the proposal referred to in paragraph 4 of my D. No. 193 to provide that work by ex-prisoners of war and civilians pending repatriation should be on a voluntary, not compulsory, basis. This is in accordance with the suggestion made by the Canadian and Union High Commissioners in London. [2] We are accordingly communicating with the United Kingdom delegation at the Three Power meeting asking them to try to secure agreement of the United States authorities to our proceeding on this basis. Should be glad to learn from you most immediately whether you would wish your prisoners of war and civilians to be excluded from the agreement on this modified basis. Pending reply from you we are suggesting to the delegation that the agreement should apply in the first instance to the United Kingdom with provision for subsequent inclusion of the Dominions if desired. We regret the shortness of time available but we consider it essential to take the opportunity of the present meeting to reach final settlement of this matter if in any way practicable.

1 Document 22.

2 Vincent Massey and G. H. Nicholls respectively.

[AA:A1066, IC45/6/2/1, i]